On Friday March 5, 2021, a great humanitarian, loving Dad of three and fabulous Papa of five, passed away quietly and peacefully at age 70. There was no kicking and screaming, much to the surprise of his daughters that were with him.
David, also known to some as "Dabu" and "Cuddles," was born on June 24, 1950 in Ashtabula, Ohio to James and Mildred (Niemi) Cunningham. A lifelong resident of Ashtabula, he graduated Harbor High School in 1968. He furthered his education earning an Associate Degree of Nursing at Kent State, Ashtabula, graduating in 1976.
On June 25, 1976 he married Rita (Hawn) Wasielewski and the couple had three daughters: Sarah, Bridget, and Kyle (pronounced Ky-lee) during their 17-year marriage.
As a child, David attended Zion Lutheran Church, then later in adulthood, became a member of Plymouth Methodist Church. He was always striving to learn and grow in his deep faith and spirituality, sharing his hopes and experiences with others. A street preacher of sorts, he even baptized his daughters in the waters of Lake Erie.
Always a big nature and Lake Erie fan, he became a lifeguard for the American Red Cross at age 15. He was also one of The Original Lake Erie Surfers.
In 1977 David was employed as a nurse at Ashtabula General Hospital, now Ashtabula County Medical Center, until his retirement in 2013. A proud member of the ONA, he was a great contributor and driving force of the longest nursing strike in history, lasting 570 days from July 21, 1980 until February 8, 1982.
David had a great passion for the love of life and helping his fellow man, treating all with loving kindness to the best of his ability. Ever persistent in trying to treat others with empathy and kindness, he helped change many lives as a nurse working on the Psychiatric Unit for the last 20 years of his career. He also visited jails and other institutions trying to help and teach others to learn a new way of life by the simple practice of doing the next right thing. Being a "patient of Dr. Bob" and a " friend of Bill W." successfully since March 17th 1994, he was ever improving his life and way of living and helping many others to do the same.
David was also the ringmaster of the Cunningham Clan, Peckerhead Division and passed down stories of his family's history with great zeal to his kin and friends.
David tried to live life to its best and fullest potential of joy, being a walking “Praise & Prayer” for all. When he erred and realized it, he was quick to try to fix it. He wanted everyone to live a happy life. Every day that he could be on the beach, he spent on the beach. He danced, sang, played music, ran, walked, cooked, cleaned, ironed, darned socks, fished, golfed, played football and tennis. He sailed boats as a first mate and acted as a lifesaver many times. He chased and played like a kid with his daughters and grandchildren, fixed booboos and broken hearts, and rocked many babies and kids, small and big, to sleep. All who knew him loved him so dearly and will deeply miss him, even the waters of Lake Erie.
He is survived by his three daughters, Sarah Kathleen Marie Cunningham, Kyle Anne Cunningham, and Bridget Christa Fields, as well as her husband, Christopher Beryl Fields whom David cherished as a son; five grandchildren, Everet Nathaniel Lowel Fields, Eva Delaney Fields, Anja Sabine Fields, Sophia Jeanne Norris, and Isadora Joyce Marie Cunningham Everett; brother, Scott Cunningham; his former wife, Rita Jo Wasielewski; and numerous amazing nieces, nephews, brothers-in-law, and sisters-in-law.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Robert Cunningham.
Funeral service will be 12 p.m. Friday, March 12, 2021 with visitation 10 a.m. -12 p.m. at Potti Funeral Home and Cremation Service, 1329 Lake Avenue, Ashtabula OH. Burial will follow at Greenlawn Memorial Gardens, North Kingsville, OH.
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